As they approached Jerusalem, the disciples praised God with joyful exuberance for all the deeds of power that they had seen.
They were not kidding. He really was the Messiah. And they knew it. And they wanted to let everybody know it.
As he arrived at Jerusalem they set him on the unridden colt of a donkey, showing the prophetic advent of the peaceable king.
Here is the prophecy (Zechariah 9:9):
Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
He was not playing the warrior prince, but coming as a restorer, a healer, a bringer of peace, a just man. One who would make right what was wrong, who would proclaim righteous behavior as the standard of God. One who would work for justice, for all who sought peace.
He was not kidding. He knew what he was doing. He brought into the city of David the message of the Kingdom of heaven: peace, justice, the establishment of God as the one true final allegiance of all.
And he knew what this could cost him: his life.
But he stayed true to his promise, to his mission. His integrity was absolute.
And so his whole life, that had been given to redeem humankind, came to its consummation, as he led the way to the Temple, and beyond it, to the Cross, doing what was required of him.
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? 8
The Pharisees said, your disciples are making a ruckus, stirring up trouble. Tell them to stop! But he rebuked them in a prophet's words: If these were to keep silent, the stones themselves would cry out - for justice.
‘Alas for you who get evil gain for your houses,
setting your nest on high
to be safe from the reach of harm!’
You have devised shame for your house
by cutting off many peoples;
you have forfeited your life.
The very stones will cry out from the wall,
and the plaster beam will respond from the woodwork.
‘Alas for you who build a town by bloodshed,
and found a city on iniquity!’
Is it not from the Lord of hosts
that peoples labour only to feed the flames,
and nations weary themselves for nothing?
But the earth will be filled
with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
as the waters cover the sea.
Soon he would drive out of the Temple the people who were there to monetize the experience, the moneychangers and dove-keepers, the purveyors for profit in a holy place.
He would teach in the Temple. He would eat the sacred meal of the Passover with his disciples. He would face his betrayers. He would confront the powers of this world. He would suffer under Pontius Pilate, be crucified, die, and be buried.
And he would rise again.
In every action, every word and deed he would accomplish in the coming week, Jesus would proclaim:
This is what my kingdom looks like.
From the triumphal entry into the city, through the passion, through his death, and on to his rising from the dead.
He proclaimed it:
The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
Blessed the king who comes, the king foretold in the Song of Zechariah, the Magnificat of Mary (and wasn't the Anunciation just the other day?), in the voice of John crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way! The One is coming, who comes in God's Name.
Peace in heaven, and may it be so on earth. May we now prepare our hearts, to make him room, that we may receive our Messiah King. He is the one who brings us into just and right relationship with God, and with the world God has made. He is the one who came to give us life.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord. (Psalm 118:26)
Even so, come to us, Lord Jesus. Maranatha! Amen.
May we live by faith, walk in hope and be renewed in love, until the world reflects your glory and you are all in all. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
(Book of Common Prayer, Church of Ireland, 2004)
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.